Objective: To help participants imagine the impact of disasters and to explore the concept of interdependence
Time: 30-40 minutes
Materials: Flipchart paper and markers or blackboard and chalk, tape
Group Size: Any
Ask participants to imagine that the area you live in is struck by a series of devastating tornadoes. Your community and several neighbouring towns are cut off from the outside world: roads and bridges are knocked out; power and telephone lines are toppled. Many buildings are severely damaged. An unknown number of people are dead or missing and hundreds require medical attention. It will take a week for basic power, communication and transportation to be restored. Repairs to roads, bridges, homes and other buildings will take months.
1. Create a “pond” diagram by drawing a large oval on the blackboard or flipchart.
Note: if using flipchart paper, you may wish to tape two or more papers to a wall for a larger working space.
2. Brainstorm the different impacts the tornadoes might have on the family members of those in the group members. These impacts will be illustrated as “stones” dropping in the water. List the impacts on the diagram – near the centre of the “pond.”
Note: impacts can be both negative and positive.
3. Next, brainstorm ways the disaster might directly and indirectly affect the community. Mark these “stones” around the first set of impacts, moving out from the centre of the “pond.”
Note: a direct impact would be caused directly by the tornado, while an indirect impact might be caused by one of the aforementioned impacts on “family,” or some other variable.
4. Finally, around the outside of the “pond” boundary, mark the “stones” of impacts from the disaster which represent effects at the national or international level. Again these might be direct or indirect impacts of the tornadoes.
5. “Animate” the diagram by drawing “ripple lines” to show how the various impacts listed affect one another. Use arrows to indicate the direction. For example, injuries at the family level will have a (negative) impact on community-level activities such as sports, services such as medicine or education, and re-building efforts; media coverage outside of the community can (positively) impact upon funding and volunteer efforts at the community and/ or family level.
6. As the group begins to show the secondary or ripple effects of disaster, you may need to mark new “stones” (impacts) on the “pond”. By the end, you should have a fairly cluttered drawing!
1. What have you learned by drawing “stones” and “ripples”?
2. What happens to individuals in the community when services are disrupted and infrastructure is destroyed?
3. What happens to the community when individual members lose the ability to care for themselves?
4. What happens at the national and international level?
5. What impact does breakdown at the inner circles have on the bigger picture? What effects do outside players (governments, organizations and individuals) have on those in the community who were more directly affected?
6. Where are the greatest positive ripple effects?
7. Discuss the motives that different actors have for responding to the disaster. What prompts people to help others at each level? What are some of the pragmatic motives?
8. What ethical or faith-based reasons might people give for helping?